Wednesday, 15 August 2012


       The Tanks in Action
Tate Modern until October 28 

For 15 weeks we can wander inside The Tanks, a vast raw industrial space, all stark lighting and polished concrete floors. The Tanks sit beneath what will be a 10-storey extension to Tate Modern topped by a terrace overlooking St Pauls Cathedral, being built because the present building attracts nearly 5 million visitors a year, double the number it was designed for.

 Meanwhile we have The Tanks In Action, a festival of 'non-marketable' art works such as live performances, installations, film works, talks and symposia. It’s said that economic austerity and inflated art market prices have produced a backlash in their favour.
The Crystal Quilt 1985-7 is an art work which intervenes in social and political questions. It focuses on older women and the way they are portrayed. It culminated in a performance on Mothers Day 1987 in Minneapolis, where 430 women over 60 became a 'quilt', emblematic of work which has for centuries united women of different ages, classes and races. They sat 4 to a table in a patterned arrangement on a large rug, changing the position of their hands every ten minutes to echo the shapes of different quilt blocks. Some of their personal memories and reflections were woven into a soundtrack.  What the audience sees now is a lively, fast and quixotic video, a documentary, quilt, photographs and sound piece.
The work raises the question as to whether art can change society. And if it does is it still art? Something like this is being discussed post- Olympics, when tens of millions of viewers shared new and challenging images of what it means to be a member of the human race.

Lacy, 66, wants to create a new work in the performance space to celebrate the stories of older women in Britain, whose issues may be very different, such as access to digital media and concern about the climate/environment. Why not a ‘Granny Flash Mob’, usually associated with youth and spontaneity? Email if you would like to take part.

Alex Rotas has an exhibition at Murray Edwards College Cambridge (used to be New Hall) showing photographs of women athletes in their 60s, 70s and 80s still competing in international competitions. She remarks that the women showed their age but still looked outstandingly alive and vibrant. is an interesting interview with the artist by Caitlin Hayward-Tapp

At the entrance to The Tanks are sticky labels with questions like: How Can Art Change Society? and What is the Role of the Audience? Unpeel them and stick your answers on the wall.

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